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When You Feel 'Addicted' to Your Anxiety


I think I am “addicted” to my anxiety.  I know, kind of a strange thing to say, right? But there are times that my anxiety actually exhibits some of the hallmark signs of addiction. Much like addictions, my anxiety often takes over every aspect of my life. There are times that it consumes my entire thought process — the dreadful feelings of impending doom and the relentless “what if’s.” I avoid telling people, even my family and my therapist, the complete truth about my scary thoughts. They might otherwise think I am crazy. I am not. I avoid things that I previously enjoyed doing. My personality changes. Sometimes, I eat too much or I sleep all day. Sometimes, not at all. I think I am “addicted” to my anxiety.

And oddly enough, there is a strange sense of comfort when my anxiety is present. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not like it or look forward to it in any way. I hate it. It robs me of my freedom and it pollutes my peace of mind. It makes me fear living as much as I fear dying. I despise it, my anxiety. But when it is here, at least I know where it is. And I know what it is. It is not hiding in every shadow and around every corner, eagerly waiting to jump out at me while I cringe with fearful anticipation. There is no need to worry about its return because it is here, where I can keep an eye on it and hold onto it tightly.

The country singer/songwriter, Chris Stapleton, was credited with drawing attention to depression and suicide prevention awareness in 2016 with the CMT award winning video for his song, “Fire Away.”  It is well worth a Youtube watch — just have a tissue or two on hand. Mr. Stapleton also hit close to home in his song, “Whiskey and You” (equally worth a listen), in this verse:

I’ve got a problem but it ain’t like what you think

I drink because I’m lonesome and I’m lonesome ’cause I drink

But if I don’t break down and bring it on myself

It’ll hit out of the blue

That’s the difference between whiskey and you 

My anxiety is like that. Just like that. If I bring it on myself, I have some tiny, false sense of control

inside of an otherwise completely, out of control situation. I don’t want it to hit out of the blue. In fact, that’s what scares me most. It is the last thing I want. I’d rather it didn’t hit at all. But it does. Oddly, we sometimes welcome in the devil we know with open arms, thinking it will keep the devil we don’t know at bay.

There are times that things are good and I feel fine. Even then, though, I am skeptical. I’m afraid to let my guard down because my anxiety might return if I do. I realize this is not the healthiest approach to dealing with it. I should simply enjoy the good days and use my learned coping skills on the not so good ones. But it’s just not that easy when you’re “addicted” to your anxiety.

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Unsplash photo via Clem Onojeghuo